Lot 163
  • 163

Vincent van Gogh

450,000 - 650,000 USD
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  • Vincent van Gogh
  • The Beach at Scheveningen
  • Gouache, watercolor and charcoal on paper
  • 10 7/8 by 18 1/8 in.
  • 27.8 by 46 cm


C.H. Guépin, Amsterdam
C. Mouwen Jr, Breda; Sale, F. Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, May 3, 1904, lot 23
Private Collection, Haarlem, Netherlands
Sale: Christie's, New York, June 28, 2001, lot 420
Acquired from the above sale


Rotterdam, Kunstzalen Oldenzeel
Amsterdam, Kunsthandel E.J. van Wisselingh, Aquarelles et dessins de l'époque 1881-1885 provenant de collections particulières néerlandaises, 1961, no. 22
Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Vincent van Gogh, drawings, 1990, no 61, illustrated in the catalogue p. 112


Jacob-Baart de la Faille, Vincent Van Gogh, The Complete Works on Paper, Catalogue raisonée, Paris, 1928, no. 982, catalogued vol. III (titled La Plage); vol. IV, no. 982, illustrated pl. XL
Walter Vanbeselaere, De Hollandsche periode [1880-1885] in het werk van Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam, 1937, no. 409, pp. 86-87
New York Graphic Society, The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, London, 1958, vol. 1, no. 237, pp. 467-468
Jacob-Baart de la Faille, The works of Vincent van Gogh, London, 1958, no. F982, illustrated p. 365
Jan Hulsker, The Complete van Gogh. Paintings, Drawings, Sketches, New York, no. 247, and illustrated p. 62 (titled Beach with People Walking and Boats)
Sjraar Van Heugten, Vincent van Gogh.  Drawings, The Early Years 1880-1883, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 1996, illustrated p. 136


Very good condition. On cream colored laid paper. The work is hinged in three places along the top edge to a window mount with Japan paper hinges. There is a slight mat stain around the extreme edges, about 1/4 inch in width, from a previous matting. This is not visible in the work's current mat. A tiny repair to the sheet is visible on the recto near upper left corner. The verso has some minor staining. One faint fax mark along lower left edge directly under the mans' foot. Otherwise in very good condition, the colors are bright and fresh.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Van Gogh executed the current work not long after moving to The Hague from his parent's home in Brabant. One of the advantages of this new city was its artistic life, filled with the activities of painters, art societies, art dealers and all of the other prerequisites of a young artist looking to make his way in the world. Initially, he had a difficult time acclimating to life in The Hague, finding it hard to ingratiate himself with dealers and otherwise make friends. By the time he painted the current work, however, van Gogh had adapted to the surroundings and found a wealth of artistic inspiration in the coastal villages. The fishing town of Scheveningen was rapidly becoming a destination for artists at this time and though his financial situation did not allow him to live there, the artist would often visit and depict the vibrant activity on the waterfront.  

In a letter to his brother Theo dated October 22, 1882, van Gogh referred to the compositional structure that led to the current work:

"It is real autumn weather here, rainy and chilly, but full of sentiment, especially splendid for figures that stand out in tone against the wet streets and the roads in which the sky is reflected. It is what Mauve does so often and so beautifully. So I have again been able to work on the large water color of the crowd of people in front of the lottery office and I also started another of the beach, of which this is the composition [see fig. 1]" (quoted in New York Graphic Society, op. cit., p. 467)

For many of the works which he executed while living in The Hague, van Gogh would start with pencil or charcoal and elaborate with watercolor. The present work is a fine example of how he was able to harness the color potential of this medium. His use of watercolor was deeply influenced by his cousin, the well-reputed artist Anton Mauve (mentioned above), with whom he had stayed in the autumn of 1881. Discussing van Gogh's use of the medium, Johannes van der Wolk has noted its importance in the artist's production throughout his life: "In fact, van Gogh never entirely gave up painting in watercolour. He never became a watercolourist in the traditional sense of the term, however, for apart from a few exceptions he preferred to use watercolour as his body colour rather than transparently. It seems that as a rule he liked to use watercolour as a means to colour in a composition rather than to build up a picture with it. Entirely in line with this somewhat aloof attitude towards the medium of watercolour, when making watercolour drawings, he was not only concerned with the technique itself, but particularly also with composition problems" (Johannes van der Wolk, Vincent van Gogh, Drawings (exhibition catalogue), Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, 1990, p. 69).

Fig. 1 Portion of van Gogh's letter to his brother, Theo, on October 22, 1882, including a sketch for the current work